Details

  • Last Online: 7 hours ago
  • Location:
  • Contribution Points: 304 LV3
  • Roles:
  • Join Date: October 3, 2020
Completed
Saiai
28 people found this review helpful
Dec 20, 2021
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 10
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

The truth disappears with love

This headline, "the truth disappears with love", is the series' catchphrase and after watching all 10 episodes, it encapsulates the whole theme of the drama.

TLDR: Saiai is an original suspense love story work made by producer Arai Junko and helmed by director Tsukahara Ayuko. Well-acted, with a tight pacing, enagaging story, and gorgeous music, this proved to be another masterpiece from the Arai/Tsukahara combi.

✦ STORY ✦
The story is original but draws the familiar themes of suspense/mystery and forbidden love. What would happen if after 15 years, you reunite with your first love, not as simple colleagues or friends but as a detective and a person under suspicion of murder? The premise is tempting and would catch the eye of lovers of drama. Add in the mystery/suspense part - of the unsolved case 15 years back and more unresolved murders in the present - and you have a neat, interesting package. The pacing of the story is tight, with revelations and clues unfolding in each episode, but the strongest episodes are those of the first half and the last. The 6th and 7th episodes are more subdued and might seem draggy since they deal more with character relationships. Despite this, the plot continued to develop and move forward. There were also some characters that I wished we have seen more on the screen, but I'm glad that at least they were used quite well in the story.


✦ ACTING/CAST ✦
The cast delivered in their roles, playing each character wonderfully, I'm so satisfied with each actor's performance. There were two in the supporting team who were quite shaky at first, but gave more nuanced performances as the episodes went on. What I also like about the characters is that they're all so capable in their jobs, from our main three to the supporting cast. It's so inspiring and so amazing to see.

Our main three actors were impressive. Yoshitaka Yuriko gave so much life to Sanada Rio, I often find myself taking too many screenshots of her expressions in each episode because she's just so captivating to watch as the character. She mentioned in an interview before the final episode that she felt that Rio's living somewhere out there, and I fully agree. Like what I have mentioned in the comments below, Sanada Rio's character may be someone that can draw annoyance due to how people always protect her, but the writing and Yuriko's charm and performance made her someone you would want to protect, someone lovable.

Matsushita Kouhei's Miyazaki Daiki is so freaking cool. I noticed that Kouhei always gives off a different vibe for each of his roles and it's no different to what he did for Daiki. What I like is that his performance and the writing made Daiki not just that "cool and capable detective", he's also very much human, he's someone who truly cares for his beloved people. He is very capable in his job, but he also has his flaws, and he is - at the core - just someone who lives to help other people, especially Rio and Yuu.

Iura Arata's Kase Kenichiro is a big cinnamon roll, he's probably my favorite character in the series. Kase Kenichiro is a strong, reasurring presence in the Sanada family's lives, and he's there for Rio every step of the way. Iura Arata's acting solidifed Kase's warmth and sharpened the edges that the character also possesses. Kase on paper is Sanada Wellness' watchdog with all the teeth and warmth,Kase on the screen is all that, magnified even more with the presence that Iura Arata gave him.


✦ MUSIC ✦
The music is so beautiful!! It actually really helped in the whole experience, especially in the first episode. Speaking of the first episode, the first two minutes of the pilot ep is a very good hook, and the accompanying music elevated it. The soundtrack was able to give off the feel of "15 years ago in Shirakawa-go", and "today, in Tokyo", and served as good backgrounds to key moments so kudos to Yokoyama Masaru! Aside from their use, the absence of music in some key scenes (!!) is also very tasteful. In these particular scenes, it leads viewers in on the suspense, waiting with baited breath along with the characters on the screen.
(Here's the whole OST on Spotify btw! : https://open.spotify.com/album/7qv1By236WWMlwMWEg9772?si=jOOeq8EvSB60gea8BYKFLg)


✦ REWATCH VALUE ✦
After watching the last episode, you'd want to watch the first episode all over again to catch all the clues and hints that you missed. The character relationships and plot progression would be better appreciated if you binged it, so yes a rewatch is in order haha. The series is very binge-worthy, the pacing of the episodes and the bite-sized clues and hints in each one makes each episode interesting.

-

All in all, Saiai - literally "beloved" or "dearest" - was a satisfying drama from start to finish. I was a bit apprehensive of their pacing in the last two episodes in terms of the big reveal, but I'm very glad that they wrapped everything up nicely. There were just two plot threads that I think were not fully explained, but overall, it was a very good last episode. The theme of the drama was also drawn out very well, I can't think of a better title than Saiai, and indeed, the catchphrase "the truth disappears with love" holds true.

What a ride. Saiai is now under my 2021 favorites and my all-time favorites list, and it's all thanks to each part of the series from the production, to the story, acting, music, and rewatch value. Despite my love for this series, I won't erase the truth - and that is that it is a satisfying, well-produced drama that deserves to be watched. So if you haven't yet, this is your sign to watch it now.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Blue, Painful, Fragile
11 people found this review helpful
Mar 22, 2021
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

Raw, Humane, Poignant

Let me start by saying that I really like this film. Since I haven't read the novel, I went in not expecting anything in particular and ending up getting blown away by how real it is.

The premise is simple, it's laid out right at the start of the film. It got you thinking down this one train of thought, and just when you're getting sold to this idea, the film neatly drops a plot twist on your lap. What's interesting is how it was revealed, it jumps out at you and will make you want to pause and rewind back to the start to scour the hints on the scenes with a more critical eye.

We have the characters - Kaede and Akiyoshi - two people who met in one of their classes in college. Akiyoshi, the idealist, finds a friend and colleague in Kaede, the guy who just wants to disappear into the background. Understandably, it wasn't a friends-at-first-sight thing, but as the movie progressed, you'll see how they created something beautiful as they built Moai.

However, human nature is just as ugly as it is beautiful, and that's exactly what Aokute, Itakute, Moroi (or KuteKute) showed. The themes of friendship, betrayal, revenge, and selfishness are portrayed in such an honest and real way that I can't help but pause a few times during the movie because it tugged at the emotions and memories I've hid away at the back of my mind. The idealism vs. realism themes are also drawn out well between the two characters, building up as the movie progressed.

SugiHana and Ryo's acting shone through in this movie - especially Ryo, since we see it from his POV - as they portrayed Akiyoshi and Kaede's journey. The one scene I loved watching over and over is the climax scene - and it is something you need to watch for yourself.

KuteKute is not for everyone, as some may find it boring or hollow or even silly (especially because of Akiyoshi's idealism), but the movie will definitely reach those who were once a Kaede or an Akiyoshi (or both) in their lives.

Aokute, Itakute, Moroi.
Blue, Painful, Brittle.
Raw, Humane, Poignant.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Avalanche
5 people found this review helpful
Jan 22, 2022
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 8.5
This review may contain spoilers

Slick and engaging action drama with a stronger second half

Avalanche is one of the autumn 2021 dramas that dominated most of the reviews and polls, and for good reason. It is a smoothly-directed political action series littered with engaging scenes and a tight pacing.

✦ STORY ✦
The plot isn't anything new - a group of outlaws set to expose the wrongdoings of political figures, but the series managed to level it up with tight pacing. The main aim of the group is exposed at the second half as they set to deal with the "big boss" of sorts, and this is the fun part as the series is running on adrenaline due to the chess play of the characters. The first half is the classic one-case-at-a-time, and I was almost set to believe that the procedural format will persist until the end, but episode 5 proved me wrong, to my relief. Avalanche picked up its pace at the second half, and it's even better than the first half in my opinion. The first four episodes dealt with cases that let us see into the lives of some members of Avalanche, giving insight on what made them join the group and how it affected them. As it is though, the action genre usually suffers from lacking character depth, and that's what happened here. While I'm satisfied with the storyline, I was out here wishing for more fleshing out for most of our characters, especially for Watabe Atsuro's Oyama. What I appreciate though, is how they showed the obstacles along the way, how Avalanche were beaten with these, and how they got around to pushing through despite it. The action choreography was also good for a TV drama, and the camerawork during these scenes is done well enough for the audience to follow it smoothly.


✦ ACTING/CAST ✦
The cast did good in their respective roles. Ayano Go definitely suits this genre, and the rest of the Avalanche members held off well on their own. Fukushi Souta surprised me because he actually did well as Saijo Eisuke, so props to Director Michihito Fuji for directing him well. Watabe Atsuro as the big guy opposite Avalanche did well, too, he carried the charisma and composure of Oyama with ease.


✦ MUSIC ✦
The music suit the series, in general. Nothing is too jarring, the tracks complement each scene they play in. Particular favorites are the drumming song (first heard in E01 when Yamamori called the team in) and the main theme, which is played in the opening title scene. And yeah I have to say, Avalanche has probably the most beautiful opening title scene in autumn 2021, I can't stop looping it lol.


✦ REWATCH VALUE ✦
With the revelations in the 2nd half, you're sure to keep a close eye on things upon watching the series a second time around. Nothing beats watching it the first time though, experiencing the thrills for the first time, especially when you get to the 2nd half of the story. Nevertheless, it will be fun to watch again as Avalanche tries to achieve their goal, even with all the odds against them.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Dried Flower: Our Room in July
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 26, 2022
3 of 3 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.5
This review may contain spoilers

A poignant love story as short-lived as a bouquet of fresh flowers

I've always looked forward to watching Dried Flower: Our Room in July ever since the cast and plot (Yuuri's songs as basis? Count me in!) were announced, and the drama delivered.

In three episodes, the drama was able to show the beginning and sadly, the end of a relationship. It made quick work of how Kaoru and Yurika met, their relationship developing offscreen, then showing how they decided to go with co-habitation. Their displays of love for each other are simple and endearing that watching their carefully-crafted safe haven slowly fall apart is devastating.

This isn't to say that their feelings aren't valid, though. I understand Kaoru's intentions of wanting Yurika to be happy, and how he felt cut-off with her suddenly leaving, but I understand Yurika as well, with her internal conflict and struggle with how Kaoru doesn't understand her. Both sides have their fault in that they haven't communicated entirely well with the other - communication is a two-way process, after all, but both of their feelings are valid.

Bando and Kana did well in showing the different shades of Kaoru and Yurika - curiosity and enchantment at the first meeting, love and fondness at the peak of their relationship, and the despair and pain at the slow unravelling at the end. Bando and Kana have a really cute chemistry as well that made me see how Kaoru and Yurika fell in love with each other, and tbh after watching this, I want to see more of Bando in romance genres haha.

Yuuri's songs at the end were a nice touch, I've always liked his voice and his songs and I like how they were incorporated into the series. I would like to say that I wanted more, but the length of the drama is just right - no draggy moments, each frame and each event adds to the story.

All in all, like what the title of this review says, Dried Flower: Our Room in July portrays a love story as beautiful as a bouquet of fresh flowers, but like all plants uprooted from the earth, it is similarly as short-lived.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
The Cinderella Addiction
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 29, 2021
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.5
This review may contain spoilers

A fairy tale gone wrong

The story has all the seeds of an interesting and intriguing story - a jaded Fukuura Koharu who just went through a rough set of unfortunate events met a handsome doctor and widower, Izumisawa Daigo and saved him from imminent danger. This one act of kindness set off a chain of fairy tale-like sequences in return, luring her in to become part of Daigo's family. He's handsome, generous, and rich, with a pretty daughter who needs a mother's love. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, anything. What happens in the movie is a deliciously dark spiral down to madness, where everything comes crashing down in the end. Sometimes, you just need a story where everything goes wrong (or right, for them?) in the end, and if you're looking for one, then this is it. However, the development and pacing did not fully realize the movie's potential.

For one, Koharu's sudden decision around the 1hr. 30-min mark of the film came too suddenly that I need to pause for a while and rewind. Like what someone else on the comments and review section said, this would've worked better as a 3-episode drama because there's so much to unpack - there's a lot of symbolism and parallels that could've been more properly explored. As it is, it felt like they wanted to do too many things in the movie, and ended up rushing certain things (like the ending. that didn't make sense considering that the couple wreaked havoc on the school some few days before - no way should the authorities let them back in like that).

The OST is a gem, though, I've listened to it countless times since they released it on Spotify on February of this year, and to hear it in the movie made the dark spin on fairy tales all the more prominent. The film was also very aesthetic, it was very pleasing to the eye with a lot of scenic shots. The color grading was done tastefully - the colors either pop up or blend with shadows, depending on how the movie's progression.

Tsuchiya Tao doesn't disappoint - she truly does shine in dark roles. As much as I liked seeing her portray happiness and joy, it is in the movie's 2nd half did she truly shine. She lets herself loose, depicting Koharu's frustration, exhaustion, irritation, anger, and devastation with ease, you can clearly see the emotions on her face and with that, I must say that her work in Aishu Cinderella is one of her best, so far. Coco as Hikari did a great job of annoying me lol, but she still had a lot of room to grow for the scenes that shows Hikari's depth. Tanaka Kei as Daigo's also fun to watch, and like with Tao, I like seeing him best when he's getting unhinged (that dinner scene in the latter part of the movie's a delight to watch!).

All in all, Aishu Cinderella could've been so much more, it had a lot of potential but this wasn't fully realized due mainly to its pacing and development. However, one of the things it did right is show everyone the responsibility and role of parents as the primary teachers of their children. What you teach to your kids and how you deal with them will ultimately affect the kind of person that they will become in the future. And like what Koharu said, truly, how do you become a good mother?

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Imawa no Kuni no Alice Season 2
3 people found this review helpful
Dec 23, 2022
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Better than S01 and marginally better than the manga

NOTE:
♠[Fair warning that I am writing this in the perspective of someone who has read the manga way back and as such, has spoilers]♠

Alice in Borderland S02 picks up from where S01 left off - that is, right at the start of the Next Stage. It will immediately set things into action - "no time wasted!" and all, setting the tone for the rest of the episodes.

That's how S02 is characterized - with quick action scenes, adrenaline-filled games, and a literal and figurative chase for answers. However, the thrill of the games leave you catching your breath, and that's where the quiet, reflective moments come in to give you a chance to rest and mull over things. Included in the 2nd season are plentiful pockets of quiet where the characters either reflect on the essence of their existence, or have the chance to experience a normal few hours, for once. It's a much needed piece of calm in the chaos of the Borderlands, and S02 has done it well, even better than S01 if I must say so.

Like others, the series has its strengths and weaknesses, which I will enumerate and briefly discuss below:

STRENGTHS
1. Emotional beats
- This is one of S02's biggest strengths, in my opinion. I could FEEL the emotions of the characters as they went by their journey, and did a good job of packing enough weight for those moments to give a hard punch. Even the side characters (like the King of Spades) whose past was given a screentime only short of a minute, were able to deliver a few moments of emotional punch. I LIKE.

2. Timeline of events and Revisions in/play-out of the games or characters
- The second arc of the manga, the Face Card games arc, is harder to adapt because it consists of numerous side stories and individual games that tie up together. The series was able to compromise with the events in the source material, and craft a script wherein the timeline both makes sense and flows easily. For example, having Chishiya face off the King of Diamonds right before making him face save Usagi is a very good way of solidifying his words and development, making his decisions believable enough. Most of the revisions that the screenwriters made in the script have actually added more to the plot and flow than I initially thought it would, raising the stakes and the sense of urgency (for example, letting the girls get injured in EP07 right before Arisu and Usagi venture to defeat the Queen of Hearts) so kudos!

3. Connections between characters
- This is specifically for Arisu/Usagi, Kuina/An, Shirabi/Agni and Chishiya/Kuzuryu. The screenwriters were able to insert moments which show the (growing and deepening) connection between some characters. For example, that rabbit-hunting scene adds another layer to ArisUsagi's relationship where, for once, they were somehow normal. Another example is Chishiya and Kuzuryu - they were successful in showing just how much of a good foil they are to the other, and drives home the point of their conversations and ideals.

4. Newly-crafted games
- The new games created for this season (ehem, Queen of Spades) were done well, worthy of their difficulty level. It delivered the thrill, plus it helped in shaping the characters' motivations.



WEAKNESSES
1. Jack of Hearts game
- This is my absolute favorite game out of the games in the manga but unfortunately, the one in the LA fell short of my expectations. The decision to include one main character in that game proved to be necessary, but it also limited the ways through which the game's brutality could fully play out. The Jack of Hearts in the manga was brutal, showing just how ugly humans can get when their lives are at stake, as expected of a Hearts game. However, the game in the LA was too tame, and although it showed moments of human wickedness, they were too quick to give an impression. It felt like they dipped their toes in this game and didn't fully jump into exploring and deepening the actual game.

2. Some performances
- Some performances from the actors were too stiff or too underwhelming. Case on point: Kyuuma. Kyuuma's character was supposed to be the exception to the visage of the other Game Masters - the only sunshine amongst the other face card masters. However, he appeared cold and stiff in the LA. Not to mention that the delivery of some dialogue was not as fluid as I hoped it would be, hence leading to how some lines fell flat instead.

3. Fleshing-out of some characters
- Some of the characters have come out unscathed from development hell, others are not so lucky. A conversation or two would have done wonders in developing the characters, but just like what I said in the Jack of Hearts game, they just dipped their toes and walked away.

4. Writing of some of the dialogue
- Now we all know that the series is heavy on the existential theme, and some of the dialogue look better on paper than spoken aloud. My gripe about the dialogue is that in some instances, it is too cartoonish-sounding, it doesn't seem natural and actually sound a bit corny when spoken aloud.

-

All in all, Alice in Borderland S02 has been great! Its biggest strengths are the emotional beats of the story and the music (most of the time it's the music driving the emotions in a scene). It also has its fair share of weaknesses that you may or may not regard as. Packed with more action and smoothed over by private lines, Season 02 is sure to keep you glued to your seats, watching until the very end. It has great rewatch value and you will find yourself clicking on the 1st episode again before you know it.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Dead Stock
1 people found this review helpful
Aug 7, 2021
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
Found Dead Stock by chance while looking for Mukou no Hate subs (they have the same subber!) and gave it a try because of (1)the plot, and (2)Niji. I like watching horror shorts so I thought, why not?

Dead Stock has the basic elements of a horror story with an additional subplot. I can't say it's impressive, in fact it has your usual formula and the cheap jump scares, but they're pretty effective, I'll give them that. The strongest episodes for me are the 1st and the 2nd, the 11th one, too, because of its message. The resolution with the subplot was weak for me, but the ending with ep.11 was a nice touch.

The actors did what they could with their characters, though I must say that there really isn't much to work with (except for Niji's character, perhaps), and more development would've been nice.

The opening and ending songs are very 90's, I enjoyed watching the opening and ending credits roll out (fun fact, UA, Niji's mother, sang the ending song!).

All in all, it has its share of flaws and I wish there was more development in the characters, but if you want to watch a series of horror shorts then give this a try! You're sure to have your 23-minute horror fix in this one. :)

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?